After years of preparation the DeaflympicsGB team travelled to Turkey to compete in one of the biggest events in sport. The 23rd summer Deaflympics was in Samsun Turkey. Samsun’s world class sporting facilities were ready and so were the DeaflympicsGB to compete against the rest of the world.
DeaflympicsGB amassed a team consisting of 63 athletes to compete in five sports (athletics, golf, football, swimming and tennis) with the mantra of podium or potential set by UK Deaf Sport. After a beautiful opening ceremony which had over 20,000 spectators watching the lighting of the Deaflympics torch. Bethan Lishman carried the flag for DeaflympicsGB at her third Deaflympics with a select contingent of DeaflympicsGb following her in to the stadium. The training was over and it was time for the games begin.
DeaflympicsGB swimming team had a truly inspirational Deaflympics winning seven medals in the pool. DeaflympicsGB golden girl Danielle Joyce claimed two gold medals in the 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle beating off strong Eastern European competition. Danielle also won 2 more bronze medals to cap off an amazing Deaflympics. Jack McComish was victorious in the 100m breastroke toom, and added a bronze to his medal tally too. More medals were won by the mixed relay team.
DeaflympicsGB Men’s and Women’s football team had a very strong Deaflympics. They battled hard against some great teams. Throughout the whole Deaflympics they had fans and amassed new fans both in Samsun and the UK to cheer them on the world’s biggest stage. Notable highlights were PJ Donals stunning free-kick against Brazil in the Men’s DeaflympicsGB first game was even mentioned by Soccer AM. The brilliant support they received was emulated in every pass, tackle and every brilliant DeaflympicsGB goal.
DeaflympicsGB Women’s team had a truly memorable tournament, after a slow start they came on strong and competed in the bronze medal match against Brazil only to lose to a last minute goal. DeaflympicsGB had a good tournament, qualifying out of their group but went out at the quarter finals to an agonising penalty shootout defeat to Italy. DeaflympicsGB Men’s finally finished 6th overall.
The heat in Turkey didn’t stop our Athletics team. Fans who went to watch the athletics were not only treated to beautiful views of Samsun but they also got to see several PB’s from the DeaflympicsGB team. On the last day of athletics competition the whole DeaflympicsGB squad cheered on Jodie Ounsley, John Ruddy and Asnath Losala who all ranked in the top 10 in the world for their events.
DeaflympicsGB tennis team had a great tournament. A young team represented DeaflympicsGB in Samsun on the court and showed great passion as they competed in front of special guest the British ambassador for Turkey, Richard Moore. Jack Clifton and Lewis Fletcher were knocked out after an extremely tense game against a strong German team in the quarter finals of the Men’s double. The future looks bright for this team so be sure to keep an eye out the DeaflympicsGB tennis team.
One of the highlights of the Deaflympics was on the Golf course. Steven Cafferty had nail biting final match for the bronze medal. After a tough game Steven came out on top and won the bronze medal. Shortly after, on the same hole Paul Waring just lost out on the gold medal to a great opponent but still came away with a silver medal. Steven and Paul were delighted with their performances.
For the DeaflympicsGB team the 23rd Summer Deaflympics Games in Samsun, Turkey was full of achievements. They beat the medal target for the games by four medals, taking home nine in total, and younger athletes showed outstanding potential for future games.
However, one achievement that stands out to the team was the massive increase in support for our heroes and their ability to inspire a new generation of Deaflympians. The team spirit throughout the Deaflympics was fantastic and the DeaflympicsGB team really did come together as ‘One Team’ and so did the fantastic supporters back home in the UK.
Christof Niklaus, DeaflympicsGB Chef de Mission, said:
“When you consider that we won only one gold medal in total for 2009 and 2013 and having to fundraise ourselves to go to the Deaflympics, this was a very successful Deaflympics for DeaflympicsGB. With just a little more support, both financially and resources, we could do even better for 2021 so we plan to use 2017 as a platform for greater success in the future. Not only will we enter the 2021 Deaflympics, we will aim to double our efforts and increase the number of sport events that DeaflympicsGB will enter in.”
DeaflympicsGB were overwhelmed with the all the kind messages of support and it was evident. It gave our team a massive boost which helped them to go on to a successful Deaflympics. The DeaflympicsGB are already in planning for 2021 and will be hoping to increase funding, awareness and more athletes to the 2021 games.